August 06, 2006

Overheard in a Book Shop

I mentor a young mother who is a college student. We were in a used bookstore buying textbooks for the fall semester. Her young son was sitting on a pile of books with his coloring book when a thirty-something guy walked in and smiled at him.

"Hey guy," he greeted the four-year-old. Then to us, "I’ve got three of them, I’d like to have another."

My mentee responded, "What does your wife has to say about that?"

"My ex-wives. Well, they all kicked me out," he shrugged. "I’m looking for a woman to give me a daughter."

He laughed and walked away, leaving us with our thoughts. If this was a pick-up line the guy needs a remedial course. If he was serious, I am left with disturbing thoughts about our value as women. It’s seems impossible that this generation of men still view women as breeders. Then I think about his female peers, many who will acknowledge that they don’t need to have a partner, just some viable sperm.

This saddens me.

Are we giving up on the prospect of a loving partnership? Is the child the only objective? Has a 50% divorce rate made us so cynical that we are tempted to skip the man/woman bond and just go straight to parenthood?

And, parents tell us we are missing out.

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4 comments:

Chase said...

Some people want kids. Some want a marriage. Some want both. And some people want neither.

I don't think there's anything wrong about any of those choices. Because they ARE choices.

Personally, I'll take relationships, but NO marriage, thanks. And, of course, no kids for me! :)

Robin said...

It's interesting how straightforward people will be like that. I often wonder how I'd feel about all of this if I were single...

Teri said...

That pick up line wouldn't work on me. I'd be horrified, and as I walked quickly in the opposite direction, I’d wonder if he was supporting all his progeny.

You had me at the "loving partnership", I mean that's where all the all the fun stuff happens, those moments when you think to yourself "these are the good times", but partners are not necessarily man/woman these days to be parents.

I was honored to attend a most beautiful wedding with my partner (yes, a man) last weekend. I'll never forget the mother of the bride's wise words to our table of friends. She said,

"You know all it takes is love and if you have something to give, then you really can do it [raise children]. It doesn't matter if you are a single mom [she was], two women, or two men. You can do it. All you need is love."

I thought this was a particularly amazing statement from a Jewish mother, who I would expect to be more conservative in terms of her family definition.

Elise said...

Teri,

Brava to you for using the term "partner" to refer to your husband at times. Wonderful!

As an woman engaged to be married (second time for both of us) in November, I'm a bit sentimental about marriage at the moment (which is impressive, given what my first marriage was like). But yes --- the tired orthodoxy that marriage and parenthood are for everyone has got to go.

A teaching colleague of mine said something really annoying to me the other day. We're planning our beginning-of-the-school-year (high school) orientation trips (we're both class mentors, albeit for different classes; I for the sophomores, she for the freshmen). We're going rock climbing this year; for her, it will be next year.

She said "Well, as a parent, I've got to tell you, I have a good self-preservation instinct" (i.e., she doesn't want to go rock climbing because she perceives it to be dangerous). Is having children the only thing that makes life worth living? Am I worth less because I have no children? Are my feelings of wanting to live a long life mere self-flattery, as I have no children to be responsible for (other than the 60 or so I work with daily and the 60 or so others I come in contact with each day through my job, of course)?

Ticked me off, it did!

Elise